Auctions | March 4, 2019

The Mopelia Collection of Fine Atlases and Travel Books at Christie's

London - In anticipation of the Antiquarian Book Fair in New York, Christie’s is pleased to showcase highlights from Beyond the Horizon: The Mopelia Collection of Fine Atlases and Travel Books. This is an opportunity for explorers, sailors, distinguished collectors and all those who love global navigation, to view and acquire some of the most valuable maps and atlases of all time. Rare and in great condition, the collection contains nearly 200 lots of important travel books covering all corners of the globe with a strong emphasis on all matters maritime. Highlights include Orbis Terrarum Nova et Accurata Tabula, a striking map of the world surrounded by allegorical scenes of the four seasons, illustrated above, and Johannes van Keulen's De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerder-de Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Werelt. Published in Amsterdam in 1688, the latter is a handsomely engraved and beautifully hand-coloured example with the frontispiece and maps highlighted in gold, perhaps one of the greatest 17th-century Dutch sea-atlases to come to the market in recent years.

A global tour of the Mopelia Collection will begin in New York from 4-7 March, to be exhibited alongside Luca Pacioli’s Summa de Arithmetica (see separate press release here). Highlights will then be on view in Paris and London to coincide with international fairs for maps and atlases before being offered at auction in London on 5 June.

Further highlights include a striking map of the world surrounded by allegorical scenes of the four seasons, entitled Orbis Terrarum Nova et Accurata Tabula by Gerard Valk (1652-1726) and Leonard Valk (1675-1746) and a hand- coloured copy of Hendrick Doncker’s constantly evolving sea-atlas De Zee-Atlas of Water-Waerelt. 

Julian Wilson, Senior Specialist, Books & Manuscripts, London comments, “The Mopelia Collection’s geographical reach is truly global, with atlases and sea-charts covering the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as polar exploration in the Arctic. It has wonderful works with fascinating associations, including a copy of Blaeu’s Flambeau de la Navigation (Amsterdam, 1620) that was owned not only by the famous French astronomer Peiresc, known for his work on longitude, but also later by the great circumnavigator Freycinet. In addition, there are the great 18th-century works by Cook, Vancouver and La Perouse, as well as a collection of 4000 natural history watercolours. For breadth, scope and quality, the Mopelia Collection is of the finest such collections to appear at auction.”